Monday, February 4, 2008

Centres of Culture II: The Western Coast (Part iii, The Icy Coast)

The Icy Coast marks the north edge of the western coast, beginning in rocky shield in the south and morphing into tall, icy peaks in the north. This dangerous mountain range is a formidable foe, and human society does not go much farther than the foothills.

The south of the Icy Coast is much like the north of the Western Coast, small tribes testing each other and competing for resources. Further north, however in the foothills of the great frozen peaks, is an entirely different story.

Influenced by ancestors who had close interactions with dwarves in the distant past, the Commonwealth of the North is based on a synthesis of dwarven and human ideals.

The Commonwealth is rightly so-called. It is a large group of allied principalities where, in a similar fashion to dwarven tribes, leaders are chosen out of the population to rule by their merits. These leaders are chosen for limited terms, and may only serve once in each of the eligible stages of their life, called "Maturity" (the age at which a person can fight), and "Wisdom" (the age at which a person is old enough to stop fighting).

The Commonwealth has its origins in the expansion of the Kularian Empire. The dwarves, seeing a threat to their safety like human threat before it, allied themselves with the humans who lived in the foothills of their mountains, teaching them principles of government and warfare. Dwarven religion was rejected by the humans, though they have added Dimiourgos to their pantheon and greatly respect him.

As dwarves have no gender to speak of, the government and society of the Commonwealth is similarly egalitarian. This is an excellent society for female PCs to hail from.

The Gods of the Commonwealth are considered to be very harsh, but very fair. "The winter," the people say, "Is harsh, but does not distinguish. Nor do the Gods. The same harshness for all." In much the same way, the society of the Commonwealth is not for the soft-hearted. Justice is retributive, and age is marked by the ability to fight.

The martial nature of the society is largely symbolic, now. There are few wars, and most are against southern tribes foolish enough to try to conquer this defensible area. This does not mean, however, that this symbolic martial focus does not impart real combat skills, and warriors of the Commonwealth are to be respected, if not feared.

There is no longer contact with the dwarves, but the people still long for this interaction. A ruined dwarven temple is a few short days travel into the mountains, and once a year a large quantity of oil is carried to the temple by a group of young persons, to refill the lamp that the Commonwealth rulers keep lit, in case the dwarves return. The dwarves watch this ceremony, but do not intervene.

Next Time: Either a cultural look at the Golden Interior, or the former Kularian Empire.

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